See, I grew up in a very "meat and potatoes" family (albeit always served with one, if not two veggie sides, mind you). But my dad specifically loves meatballs, so I've had my fair share and then some. And, frankly - I could generally take them or leave them. I do like them (and my mom makes great meatballs), but I got quite tired of them, whether they were Italian style or Swedish style.
PW's Comfort Meatballs are different, though - they're like little meatloafs, almost. So while the hubby is averse to just about any Italian food (because he grew up eating too much of it), these meatballs are specifically not of the garlic/parmesan family and so he was excited for them, too.
The problem was that I waited too long in the day to start them. Well, not waited, exactly. It's not like I was sitting around having my nails done and eating bon-bons. See, there's this little man that lives with us and he can get quite demanding sometimes.
He can't even eat meatballs so he really couldn't care less that that was what I had planned for the evening.
So it was maybe around 10:30pm when I said I was too tired to make the meatballs that I had planned to make and take for lunch the next day.
"But... what will I eat tomorrow, then?" asked the hubby. Because, you know, without those meatballs, he would have had to forage through our kitchen and find something else to eat. The horror.
Okay, I tease, but he did look just so sad about it that I said, "Okay. Well, yeah, I really wanted them for lunch tomorrow." Which was true. I had bought some provolone cheese specifically to use on a sandwich with these meatballs and I was looking forward to that cheese too much not to have it the next day.
So I dug in. I have to admit, I don't like making meatballs because the smell and feel of chopped meat totally grosses me out - like to the point that I almost gag if I get a big whiff of the meat. But I soldiered on and made two trays of the little guys.
What I like about the recipe is that you brown the meatballs in a pan first and then bake them. It's the best of both worlds - the satisfying (and healthier) comfort of a baked meatball with the outer texture of a fried one. In addition, you make the sauce for them yourself and I'm a fan of any time I eat something that I know all the ingredients of. (Have you looked at the ingredients on most bottles of BBQ sauce? Yech.)
Somewhere around 1am I finally finished (after the hubby apologized, saying he didn't know how long the meatballs would take and wouldn't have asked for them if he knew - of course, I did know how long they'd take, so really there's no onus on him here anyway). It was one of those rare occasions where I didn't immediately taste something I made because I really didn't feel like eating a meatball at 1:30am. I simply let the meatballs cool and hoped for the best.
At work the next day, I finally gave them a try. I put three meatballs with two slices of provolone on a hot dog roll we had left over from a family barbeque.
Verdict: YUM. So very good. And I ate them cold. Come to think of it, I only ate them warm once (I made enough of these to stretch over several lunches and dinners). I ate them as a cold sandwich; I ate them warm with soba noodles with just a bit of butter and salt; and I ate them cold with a cold pasta salad with veggies and garlic - and they held up to every one of those arrangements. These are seriously fantastic, all purpose meatballs. As PW says, they're really not meant for spaghetti and marinara, but I totally enjoyed them with the soba noodles and butter. They would make a great picnic food, too, since they hold up really well to being eaten cold or at room temperature and with a variety of sides.
However, I would make two distinct changes to the recipe. Next time I will:
1 - Start earlier. Seriously. No more midnight cooking for me, no matter how worth it the food is.
2 - Make the sauce a bit tangier. I like my sauces (barbeque, marinara, pizza, etc) more tangy than sweet. So I will probably use less ketchup, more Worcestershire (mmm, love Worcestershire), maybe cut half a tablespoon of the sugar, add a few more dashes of hot sauce, and also add some garlic (because I can't get enough garlic).
I love this "different" take on meatballs - and it's even made me look forward to the next times I have Italian or Swedish meatballs. I am back on the meatball train.